Photojournalist and Photographer Simon King is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. From the project ‘Thin Grey Line’. To see Simon’s body of work, click on any image.
During my work at a series of protests, all representing different forms of social unrest, I am constantly intrigued by the way the Police behave when dealing with protestors, based on their discretion or instructions from their commanders.
I think that protests often represent a morally grey area in terms of law enforcement, as when the people take issue with the state and seek to affect change they are met, sometimes with force,
by the Police who act as the enforcement of the status quo.
Enforcing the status quo can be to the detriment of the people, which is why NVDA has such a fascinating and mostly successful history in democratic states.
By carrying out the will of the state against its people the Police act as an inherently political entity, despite (at least in the UK), by law and policy police officers must remain impartial, and must not take an active part in politics [s100 Representation of the People Act 1983].
When dealing with issues that are severely political and subjective we cannot rely on a black and white interpretation of the law – especially if those laws are the ones the people are attempting to alter. We end up with situations where some laws are enforced ver some, and not others. I find issues around hate crimes especially interesting. My usual assumption around a hate crime is an act of prejudice, maybe racism – but how does it work when people are members of groups that are at literal war in their home countries?
How can the Police enforce accurately and not turn a blind eye
(which is often the case).
Watching little to no action be taken against groups of Neo-Nazis, Fascists, and other groups of hate can be worrying, as the Police often protect them under freedom of expression, despite prosecuting that expression when articulated at places other than a protest.
There can be no impartiality between an oppressive force and a group subjected to that oppression – even more so when that force is sanctioned by the state.
I have found there to be some very interesting visual scenes at these incidences, demonstrating a range of behaviors and attitudes from the Police that serve to contextualize a lot of their action. Some are amusing, others worrying – all remain part of the larger story of social unrest being documented by many not only in the UK but across the world.
These photographs are all made on 35mm film, which I find to be the most safe way to document people who sometimes try and delete my images when in a digital format. I find that black and white film offers a powerful aesthetic, removing any distraction and allowing the viewer to focus on the situation in the frame.
All images and text © Simon King
By Simon King
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